No room for error: Columbiana’s Spaite looking at smallest football turnout during his tenure


The Clippers return just one starter on offense and currently have under 30 players out grades 9-12

COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – Columbiana football is known for their high-powered offense in recent years, but with low turnout, the Clippers will have to adjust in 2020.

Last season, they averaged 34 points per game, led by Big 22 recipient Jakob Cross at quarterback. But after graduating so many playmakers, head coach Coach Bob Spaite returns just one true starter on offense, in lineman Jacob Kamperman,

“We’re not going to be that team that average 35-36-37 points a game, we’re just not,” said Spaite. “We’re going to have to take care of the football exceedingly. We’ve gotta give our offense time to grow, our defense has to come along, so it’s going to be a challenge.”

Numbers are down for the Clippers with currently under 30 players. Spaite is entering his 27th year at Columbiana and said, it’s potentially the smallest turnout since he’s been there.

“We’ve got guys that have an opportunity to play that, because we’ve had very large classes the last two or three years, have not had an opportunity other than JV to play,” said Spaite. “Well, guess what buddy, you gotta chance now to play Friday night and in some cases, you’re not going to come off the field.”

Their best playmaker is four-year starter Xathon Cross, who will get all kinds of touches in this offense, even some at quarterback. Junior Tony Kocanjer is expected to assume that role the majority of the time. Defense will be more of their strong suit with seven returning starters on that side of the ball.

“We’ve gotta take it slow, really just the fundamentals coming and going,” said Cross, a senior. “Everyone has to take it slow, learn everything, learn the plays and be disciplined. People are undersizing us but I feel like we’ll come out and surprise some people.”

“We’re gonna have to be more disciplined then we ever have,” Spaite sai. “Because we just don’t have any room for error.”

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